Finally…fall is on the horizon! In 10, give or take a few, days, it’ll “officially” be time for hot apple cider, cozy sweaters, soup bubbling on the stove and pumpkin spice lattes. I was going to mention the smell of burning leaves, but decided against it since most southern states are under a burn ban. In short, it’s still hot and dry. But regardless of the weather, most of us are enjoying game day food, either on a college campus or in front of a TV. And even more will soon be engaging in fun fall activities.
Here are a few of my favorite fall “must haves” – decor, supplies and recipes – that are perfect for tailgating, porch parties, TV watching and generally enjoying cooler (here’s hoping!) weather. Most of the items can be found at large retailers or warehouse stores. If you can’t find one of them, drop me an email and I’ll help you search.
1. Folding Canvas Wagon – Hauling heavy dishes, pans of food and iced beverages onto a college campus is not for the faint of heart. If you have to park and walk at least a mile, having a wagon in which to haul your tailgate supplies is a must. I found mine at Sam’s Club. Unlike a name brand version, Sam’s Member’s Mark brand was a few dollars cheaper, larger and had side pockets, vital for holding cell phones and chargers, utensils, napkins and more.
2. Two-Ingredient Dessert – Need a quick dessert for an early morning or afternoon game that’s reminiscent of breakfast but good for any type of gathering? Spray an 11×17-inch dish with cooking spray and pour two cans of cherry pie filling (or another favorite fruit flavor) in the bottom of the dish. Using three cans of Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls, separate dough into 15 rolls and place over pie filling, cinnamon side up. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. If rolls start to brown too quickly, cover with foil. When cool, drizzle icing over top of each roll. Cut in squares and serve…and most importantly, don’t tell anyone everything’s from the can (unless asked!).
3. Folding Charcoal Grill and Fire Pit – Who doesn’t love grilling meat before the big game or when on a road trip? I know I do, but hauling around a large grill isn’t feasible. This lightweight foldable grill – when also doubles as a fire pit once the meal is done – is large enough to grill for a crowd of 10, but is esay to set up, lightweight and easily fits in the trunk once folded. Even better, it costs less than $50. Search online for a version that meets your needs.
4. Portable Salads – I always reach for heavier fare when tailgating, but there’s usually one in the crowd that prefers green or fruit salads. However, serving these foods can be challenging, especially when using paper plates. A compact way to serve any type of salad is to pack individual servings in clear plastic cups, pop on the top and stick a plastic fork into the opening for the straw. Thiis method also works well when serving children chips and dips – simply add chips to the bottom of the cup and add their favorite dip on top for portable dipping.
5. Viral Boat Dip – I had to google the reason this concoction is called “boat dip.” Supposedly a TikTok video of people eating this dip on a boat caused the millions of viewers that saw it to label it “boat dip.” To make this year’s sensation. combine 16 ounces of sour cream, 8 ounces Mexican shredded cheese blend, 10-ounce can of Rotel, package of taco seasoning and 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro. Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir well; refrigerate before serving. Favorite additions like crumbled bacon, chopped olives and other ingredients only add to the flavor.
At least a few variations of this delicious dip have been around for awhile. Even so, “Viral Boat Dip” is enjoying a revival right now, thanks in part to social media.
Last, I’m a sucker for any recipe that lends itself to personalization with my alma mater’s colors. Seeing someone else’s bowl of black and gold “Muddy Buddies” inspired me to find a similar recipe and make it my own. I’m including a basic recipe for this perennial snack – perfect for tailgating or snacking in front of the TV. I tailored it to my own tastes by using three melted Snickers bars instead of regular chocolate and peanut butter. However you choose to make it, it’s an old school snack that’s still winning over fans in 2023.